The true meaning of Christmas is being amply demonstrated at my highschool. After putting out a group email to all the staff on behalf of one of my developmentally delayed students donations have been coming in left, right and centre.
My student, a young lady of 18 who I will call Sarah, is in desperate circumstances. Given up by her mother at birth, she was raised by her paternal grandparents. When Sarah was about ten her grandfather committed suicide. Her biological father is schizophrenic. She is predisposed for depression and mental illness as well as having an intellectual disability - the cards have been stacked against her from the moment she was conceived.
Two and a half years ago her grandmother had a stroke and died and Sarah had to go and live with her dad who she hardly knew. He was ill-equipped to look after a teenager and could barely look after himself. For the past two years they have fumbled along with dad refusing any offers of help. At school we have done our best to look after Sarah and bolster her poor self image.
Recently events have taken a turn for the worse: unpaid utility bills have resulted in the heat/hot water being turned off. Unpaid rent leaves them facing eviction and very little income has seen them turn to the food bank. Medical issues with Sarah are being untreated and she lacks the basic necessities of life. Again dad is refusing assistance and was a no-show for a meeting scheduled for today.
The good news (and there is plenty thank God) is this: Sarah is now 18 and can make her own decisions. She has decided it is time to make a break from dad and we are looking to place her temporarily at a family shelter until her disability pension kicks in and then a permanent placement can be arranged. She will receive grief counselling, psych evaluation, medication, life skills training and support for daily living.
In addition the good people at school have provided boxes and boxes of food, Christmas presents galore, warm clothing, school uniform pieces and money to help her pay for the necessities of life. Each new day finds me crying tears of gratitude for the willingness the staff demonstrates to help a child in need. She has even received several offers of Christmas dinner.
How this story will end is anyone's guess. But we are now moving forward with a plan of action, because a plan without action is just a wish.